Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sand Rat

My friend and awesome runner, Kurt Scheuler with his 'Rat' Trophy

Great race today: The Sand Rat race kicked off this morning with more runners than ever. Eric and I had planned to do it together, although due to work schedules, we trained separately. I had put in 30 something a couple of weeks ago. And this past week tapered a bit to be fresh for the 9.5 mi trail run that is the Sand Rat.

It was a chilly dawn this morning. I wandered through my house a bit undressed (read butt-nekkid) to my laundry room where I store all of my running gear. The temperature made the trek down the hall (I hadn't turned on my heat) a bit like ... well.. walking down a hall in a cold house in the winter. Most of you know what I'm talking about. And with my new awesome wood floors (just installed a few weeks ago), my feet were cold as well as points north.

For breakfast I drank a fair amount of coffee, and had a pretty good helping of oatmeal to get me loaded and race-ready.

After going over to Eric's, and waiting for him for an interminable amount of time while he packed his gear - much like a sorority girl getting ready for a date - we set off for the start of the race. As I said a moment ago, dawn greeted us like a chilly northern woman with poor circulation giving us a cold embrace. It was a bit of a consternation as we, and some other friends, discussed what to wear and bring on the run. Do we wear long pants or shorts? Long or short sleeve shirts? Jackets? Gloves? In the end, I opted for a long sleeve shirt over a short sleeve shirt, shorts, and gloves. Because there was water on the course, I finessed my bottle. I packed a shot of Accelerade Gel, a salt tablet, and some Glide (anti-chafing lube) in my short's pocket.

Lawrence music fans might recognize Tom Conroy of Crossing and Conroy's fame

When the run started, we did the first half mile on the road, and then popped off into the river trails. I spotted a guy who does ultras ahead of me, and fell in behind him. I had run with him on the Clinton North Shore race a few weeks before, and liked his pace. The trails are so narrow at the beginning that if you don't get a good spot, you're either going to be held up, or be the one holding up other runners. I seemed to have gauged my insertion point perfectly, because I was neither the passer of the passee until about mile 3.

Anyway, when we cruised through the first mile with my watch reading 8.5 minutes, I knew it was going to be a fast trail race. Not only was it fast, it was extremely comfortable and also a beautiful day as the weather warmed. By mile 2 I had removed my outer layer up top and had it wrapped around my waist.

Early in the Sand Rat Race. You can just pick out my black hat.

I hit the zone, and went on cruise control. As I ran, I came upon several people I see at race regularly. We would talk for a while as we ran, and then split and move on. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I seemed to run each successive mile faster. Between mile 7-8, I ran a sub 8 (something I never do on the trails).

I finished with a whole lot of energy and a time of 1hr 19min. that was about 10 minutes faster than I thought I'd do on a trail. It also occurred to me that if I hadn't chatted with people along the way, that I might've been able to shave another 5 min or so off of the run. However, trail running is so fun, and the people so nice, that I find if someone wants to share their enthusiasm with you during the race, it is a great thing to take a moment and talk and take a snapshot of the joy that is running.

Eric looking happy on the run

I have the Bert Nash race next week. It has a ton of hills, so I'm looking forward to seeing how I do on hilly roads again.

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